South by Southwest film fest announces midnight titles and more

From left, Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, Jaeden Lieberher and Kirsten Dunst in director Jeff Nichols' sci-fi thriller "Midnight Special." It is scheduled as part of this year's South by Southwest Film Festival.

From left, Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, Jaeden Lieberher and Kirsten Dunst in director Jeff Nichols’ sci-fi thriller “Midnight Special.” It is scheduled as part of this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival.

(Ben Rothstein / SXSW)

The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival, which runs March 11-19 in Austin, Texas, added to its program on Tuesday with the announcement of the Midnighters, Festival Favorites, Shorts and Special Events sections.

The midnight section will include Mickey Keating’s “Carnage Park,” Mike Flanagan’s “Hush,” Shinsuke Sato’s “I Am a Hero,” Thomas Dekker’s “Jack Goes Home,” Simon Rumley’s “Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word,” Sean Brosnan’s “My Father Die,” Carles Torrens’ “Pet,” Babak Anvari’s “Under The Shadow,” a remastered version of Don Coscarelli’s “Phantasm,” and a new film that reunites director Fede Alvarez with his “Evil Dead” star Jane Levy that at the time of the news release is between titles.

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The Midnighters section in particular brings out the Austin in SXSW audiences, as the late-night screenings often become raucous events at which crowds looking for a good time come face-to-face with outrageous gore, gripping suspense and offbeat fun.


“That’s one of the biggest selling points of the festival in general; the audiences are awesome,” said SXSW producer and senior programmer Jarod Neece in a phone call from Austin on Monday. “They want to love your film. No one is going in there like ‘Prove it to me.’ They’re already in it for you. It’s like a stacked deck.”

The festival had previously announced it will open this year with Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some.” Other films previously announced include Mike Birbiglia’s “Don’t Think Twice,” Jean-Marc Vallee’s “Demolition,” John Michael McDonagh’s “War on Everyone,” John Lee’s “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday,” Ti West’s “In a Valley of Violence,” Rachel Athina Tsangari’s “Chevalier” and Jeff Nichols’ “Midnight Special.”

Among the films screening at SXSW under the Festival Favorites banner will be a mix of documentaries and fiction features including Kirsten Johnson’s “Cameraperson,” Jake Mahaffy’s “Free in Deed,” Clay Tweel’s “Gleason,” Jim Hosking’s “The Greasy Strangler,” Taika Waititi’s “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” Chad Hartigan’s “Morris From America,” Kim A. Synder’s “Newtown,” Matt Johnson’s “Operation Avalanche,” Ido Haar’s “Presenting Princess Shaw,” Louis Black and Karen Bernstein’s “Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny,” John Carney’s “Sing Street” and Dawn Porter’s “Trapped.”


The special events put on by the festival will include a series of outdoor screenings such as the documentaries “Darkon” and “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” and a screening of “Smokey and the Bandit” to be introduced by star Burt Reynolds. (Among the festival’s previous program announcements was the world premiere of Jesse Moss’ documentary “Bandit,” which explores the making of that film.)

Last year the festival also included a surprise world premiere of “Furious 7” pulled together on extremely short notice once the festival was already underway. Though Neece was reluctant to compare any upcoming last-minute announcements to anything of quite that scale, he allowed, “We have some things up our sleeves that we’re hoping to share.”

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